COMPUTING

SOUTH AFRICA - CUTTING PIRACY WOULD BOOST ECONOMY

A 10 % points drop in South Africa's piracy rate could create jobs, increase tax revenues and provide major benefits to the local economy, according to a study by Business Software Alliance (BSA).

The study found that cutting the software piracy rate of 37% in SA by 10% over a four-year period could generate 2 400 new jobs, $1.7 billion (about R10.8 billion) in economic growth and $1.31 million (about R8.3 million) in tax revenues.

The independent global research, conducted by International Data Corporation (IDC), also found that reductions in the domestic software piracy rate could jumpstart growth in the IT sector.

IDC finds that the local IT sector currently includes 12 082 IT businesses, employs 68 250 people.

DC currently projects the $6.6 billion (about R42 billion) local domestic IT sector will grow 42% by 2009. A 10-point reduction in software piracy could increase that growth to 49% by 2009 to create a $10billion (about R63.5 billion) industry.

BSA chairman Stephan le Roux says although the software industry is a great driver of economic benefits, the current impact represents a fraction of the potential economic gains.

"More needs to be done to protect the value of intellectual property in terms of education, legislation and enforcement, if South Africa is to realise the potential benefits the IT industry can bring," says le Roux.

He says at this stage we have a 37% software piracy rate, which is an increase from last year's 36%. The one percent increase is due to ‘certain' additional calculations, added by the IDC during their research.

“Compared to other countries like China and Thailand who are standing at about 80% piracy rate, we are average. That means we are not doing badly, nonetheless we can always focus better and achieve the 10% reduction rate so as to improve the economy.”

The Government also needs to look at the current copyright law and make amendments to it, so as to ensure the ongoing fight against software piracy, says le Roux.

He says already as part of the ongoing fight against software piracy, prosecutors are educated on how to pick up small things that show when software has been pirated.

“Through education, private public partnerships, using corporate software and asset management as a guide to reducing software piracy, even with a person sitting at home, we can achieve that 10% decrease.”

The BSA study provides a five-step formula for the government to protect intellectual property:

- Update national copyright laws to implement World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) obligations;

- Create strong enforcement mechanisms, as required by the World Trade Organisation, including tough anti-piracy laws;

- Dedicate government resources to the problem, including national IP enforcement units, cross-border cooperation, and more training for law enforcement;

- Improve public education and awareness; and

- Lead by example by requiring public sector to use only legitimate software.

The study that assesses the IT sector's economic impact in 70 countries worldwide is available online at www.bsa.org/idcstudy

http://www.itweb.co.za/sections/computing/

2005/0512091036.asp?A=COM&S=Computing&T=News&O=ST

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